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Day two of budget protests brings about 400 to Olympia

Post by Katie Schmidt on April 6, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
April 6, 2011 4:51 pm

In the second of daily protests planned this week, about 400 people came to rally at the state Capitol against cuts to state services.

Following House Democrats’ release of their version of a state budget Monday and House Republicans’ unveiling of theirs today, groups have scheduled multiple protests this week, and so far they’ve been asking for the same thing—end state tax exemptions before making cuts.

Legislators have said doing so is a tall order because Initiative 1053, which voters approved in November, requires them to get a two-thirds majority to pass a bill that would raise taxes.

Fatima Morales, a spokeswoman for Washington Community Action Network, which organized today’s rally, said getting a super-majority in the Legislature wasn’t an insurmountable obstacle.

“Two-thirds is a vote, so it’s a choice,” she said. “We’re here today to say who are you really choosing?”

Morales said tax exemptions her group would like to see rolled back include those for plastic surgery, non-organic fertilizer and shoppers from out of state. Not doing so, she said, showed that lawmakers were siding with corporate interests.

Protesters chanting, “money for jobs and education, not for banks and corporations,” were asked to leave a House Ways and Means Committee meeting where legislators where scheduled to vote on the budget bill.

The protest also included representatives from One America, an immigrants’ rights group, who said they were concerned about the effects of the budget proposals for non-citizens.

Elsa Batres, an organizer for the group said she was particularly worried state lawmakers would reduce naturalization services.

The House Democrats’ budget bill would cut about $8.7 million in funding for the state Naturalization Program, which helps prepare low-income refugees and immigrants for citizenship testing and for Refugee Employment Services, which helps refugees find work.

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